Disney Day #2

With cousins here and ready to play, we were up and ready early.  Out of the house around 8:25, we were walking into Hollywood Studios just as it opened.

We zipped over to try and get the big cousins signed up for Jedi Training, which we did.  Knowing they needed to be back for their prep at 3:20, we worked on planning out the rest of the day.

Then Star Tours, which was a huge hit with everyone.  C3PO is your guide as you zoom around in a pod, seated in rows all together.

Buds had gotten Fast Passes for Toy Story Midway, which meant our afternoon was pretty set.

We headed to The Muppet 3-D show, which was a good place to relax, and Maya and Noa had great fun sitting on my lap, reaching out to try and grab the objects that were flying out from the screen.

After Muppet 3-D, Buster and Cousin O went back to Star Tours for another round, with Buds, while the rest of the crew headed to the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” playground with Uncle Z and me.  We met up there and relaxed with lunch.  The shady breaks with downtime really helped to make sure everyone could hold it together for the long hauls.

Then the Backstage Tour, which turned out to be a hit because of Catastrophe Canyon. Noa loved the 70,000 gallons of gushing water which followed the big explosion.

Thanks to Buds getting Fast Passes for all of us, we waltzed right on to the Toy Story Midway Ride.

From there, people were starting to fade, so off we went to The Car Stunt Show in the big stadium.  That was cool.  Learning some of the tricks of stunt car driving, i.e. a car that has been modified with the driver facing backwards so the car be driven crazy fast, looking like it is going in reverse, was really neat. The kids loved the explosions.

When I came to Disney with Steve and Faye and Patricia and James all those many years ago, we rode the Tower of Terror.  Once in a lifetime was sufficient for me.  Despite my dire predictions, or possibly because of them, all the cousins, from the 3 y.o. to the 9 y.o., wanted to ride the Tower of Terror.  Off they all trooped with the Dads for the ride of their lives.  Later reports indicate at least one child in tears, one child having to talk to himself like a therapist the entire time (It’s okay, you’ll be fine.  You can do it.), a dad who kept his eyes closed the whole ride, and all small child butts experiencing the feeling of weightlessness as they were lifted off the seat in the “drop” portion of the ride.  The ghostly haunting may have been the most distressing to our crew, and at least three of the children had nightmares that night about the ride, but…like many difficult things…in the years to come this will be one of their favorite stories to reminisce about.

For the rest of the trip, though, our children refused to refer to it by its name.  It was to be called only “T of T.”

The timing worked out well in that the day was very full, but as soon as they exited the T of  T, Buds grabbed hold of the three big kids and took off at a sprint for Jedi Training.  If you are late for Jedi Training, they give your spot to some eagerly waiting wait-listed child.  Also with impeccable timing, the daily Disney parade was going on as they had to sprint to Jedi Training.  I can only imagine the cajoling, threatening, and scooting that Buddie had to do to get them all there on time, but they did it.

Jedi Training seemed to largely consist of sitting and waiting, learning a certain attack pattern:  Left arm, right arm, left leg, duck, left leg, right leg, head.

Lots of pictures of this.

After Jedi training was complete, we made our way over to the stage where the children were given their Jedi robes and light sabers.

Well, I’ve written more about Jedi training in another post, and I’m now working on this post 8 weeks post-Disney. My memories have grown dimmer, so pictures will have to suffice.

Waiting to see if they got to be Jedis.

Waiting, but with laughter...

Lounge lizard waiting...

Agreeing to the Jedi Code of Conduct. The check in guy was mean to Zachy, though he tried to be funny, hence the fingernail chewing.

Getting ready to ride!

Riding the giant ant.

This is how Monkey spent much of our trip. She is our daughter!

Down time for a little lunch.

Takes a lot of food to feed our team.

Even the tram riding was fun since we did it together!

Monkey snuggles in on a cold morning.

Robed and ready.

Her alter-ego Jedi left behind, she's ready to go home and swim!


For a couple days this week, Zoe spent her late evenings and afternoons reading back over the blog. I could hear her cackling her way through post after post. Sometimes she would call her siblings over to show them a picture or read them a story. It made me feel so good, and so motivated to stay up to date with this.

She has a much better memory than I do, which is to be expected, but it’s so nice for all of us to have these shared memory points to reflect upon.

This experience has also inspired me to get more of the stories down about the children’s infant years. They love to hear about when they were little bitty, and not just about themselves, but about what our lives were like then. I love that Yessa has stories about my dad, even though she never met him, but she has Grandpa memories, too, thanks to the stories all of us have shared with her.

So thankful…

I love this picture of Monkey laughing. She would have been right around 2 y.o. in this picture.

Our First Massadoah Work Day

Took me a very long time to get this post written, but here we go:

November brought our first opportunity to be out in The Valley with many other partners for a Massadoah Work Weekend.  We drove out on Friday night, and stayed until Sunday, and had a fantastic time.  Everyone was so loving and kind to our children, and the children were loving and kind right back.

Zoe donated her tattoo talent to anyone who was interested, and thanks to her many sheets of sample drawings, there was a tattoo for every taste and style.

I was also intrigued and impressed to see how much work the children were willing to do/interested in.  They raked leaves, helped cut and stack firewood, swept, washed windows, sucked up bugs, and had a great time playing out doors.

As is often the case, pictures speak more eloquently than I.

Suffice it to say, the children had a great time, and felt very included and involved, as did all the adults who were there.

Lounging With Lombardi’s

Thanks to the 2012 Auction Catalog-may it rest in peace-on the front side of our Disney Vacation, and Zoe’s broken appendage on the back side, we only got half the time with our awesome friends, but the time we had was grand. The pictures are pretty much from our visit on the way down. Our few hours with them on the way back home consisted of Alex giving Zoe a spa treatment to try and keep her mind off her broken arm.

We loved seeing their gorgeous new home, playing in their backyard, talking about all the new things they are learning and seeing in their new homeland, and laughing, laughing, laughing.

Yessa by the Alligator Warning Sign at the pond in their subdivision

I love this picture for several reasons, not the least of which is that it was at the Lombardi’s where I realized how poorly I had packed for Yessa and Buster for this trip. Yessa had no short-sleeved shirts that fit, 2 pair of unners, and one skort. The other items I brought were too small or too hot. Poor kid. She wore this shirt, which is the top of a pair of pajamas Grandma gave her for Christmas, for several days. And this is why our children will never ask me for fashion advice.

Making Matt laugh is a a lot of fun.

Being back with Sweet Jack and Bouncy Sam was so, so wonderful.

All the dolls had a great time playing together, too.

The ipad games were fun for the friends to share.

The two peas in a pod settled in for some movie watching.

Anna Banana w/ the alligator sign in the background.

The stone alligators at the beautiful pool.

Okay, it was a little cold at the start of our trip.

We can't wait to try out the gorgeous pool in September!

There are some great play areas in the subdivision.

We managed to trap them!

Three cutie patooties out for a stroll.

The all-suffering husbands get some time to commiserate about the dietary journeys their spouses are taking them on.

Cooking with Matt and April (and their vitamix and juicer) was great fun! And, of course, we had Awesome Sauce!

Zach and Jack school the Buds.

Loaded up for the quick drive to Disney.

Brain Or Soul?

With Buds gone, The Buster and I get to snuggle together at bedtime, which is always a treat for me, but boring for him. He and Buds always play a couple rounds of some game on Buddie’s phone that they both enjoy.

I, on the other hand, am purposefully boring. Obviously, it must be on purpose, because I am never boring.

Last night, the Buster wanted to talk for awhile before bed, which is always fun. He wanted me to tell him some good things to think about, and he wanted me to include a part in my nightly prayer that he wouldn’t have any bad dreams.

Then he said:

Are the memories that make you you saved in your brain or your soul?

I believe this questions reaches back to a recent, on-going, conversation about the human soul being a part of the body that leaves when a person dies. I’ll detail that conversation in a post later, because that was fascinating, too.

“What do you think?” I asked.

He wasn’t really sure. I’m not really sure, either. If, as I believe, your soul goes up to Heaven after you die, does it take the memories with you? Or, as in Our Town, does this world have to be forgotten…

More spiritual questioning from the Middle Child.


Quite a few things going on here this week. Buds is down in Atlanta for a big “Pi Day” meet and greet with Juice Fans. Kids and I doing our normal routine, but add in the joy of perfect weather. We sat on a blanket in the yard and read this morning, then got TOO HOT, and moved to the shade of our own front porch. Kids and I were all up by 6 a.m. so they could go to CrossFit with me this morning. First running WOD of the Spring for me.

Finally, Zoe goes on Friday to see if the cast gets to stay off. We’ve all got our fingers crossed for that one.

I’ll be filling in the missing info. on our Disney trip, broken arm pictures, day-to-day insights, and our visit with the Lombardi’s in Florida. Oh, and we’ve already gotten our first trip of the Spring into Massadoah. Um…it was heavenly.

Spoiler alert on the Massadoah trip, it was so beautiful, there were some hunny buns playing outdoors in the spring.